Creating your own cocktails at home is a guaranteed joy: deceptively simple, yet yielding delicious results at a fraction of the cost of a bar-bought tipple. We can think of few Valentine's gifts guaranteed to elicit grins as reliably as cocktail accoutrements.
This selection has been geared towards people who like to make their own cocktails, so pre-mixed cocktails are out in favour of kits, accessories and kitchen gadgetry that will appeal to the budding mixologist.
We’ve got packs with all the ingredients you need to create a range of classic and contemporary cocktails, with each one judged on the quality of ingredients as well as the final creations. And we’ve got a few tools that will suit both the novice bartender and those who are already a dab hand with a shaker.
Here, then is our round-up of the best cocktail presents you can purchase now.
This kit contains both booze and tools for those who like gin at the heart of their cocktails. One of several storybook themed gifts from distillers Edinburgh Gin, it contains a 700ml bottle of their classic gin along with a classy mixing jug, zester, spoon and measure.
We award no prizes for their punsome storybook title, ‘Olive or Twist’, but one lucky recipient from their range of gift packs will receive a golden ticket to exchange for a first edition book worth £3,000. Buy now, £69.99, Selfridges
A few drops of bitters can transform otherwise bland drinks into grand cocktails, making this kit a great purchase for anyone who regularly sighs at the unimaginative options in their hotel minibar.
The five small bottles of flavour-packed liquid include Orange Bitters, Celery Bitters and Old Time Aromatic Bitters, housed in a retro tin that’s robust enough for a life on the road. Buy now, £15.75, The Whiskey Exchange
Every budding bartender needs their go-to recipe book and this hefty new release has barged its way to the front of our bookshelf. Neatly laid out, the instructions and full-page photos are simple and fuss-free, with its 610 classic and contemporary recipes earning it ‘bible’ status.
Divided into six categories (refreshing; sours; spirit forward; tiki & tropical; coffee & dessert; punches) the easy-to-follow recipes also feature multiple variations, further extending your creative options. Buy now, £24.95, Wordery
You don’t need much equipment to master cocktail making, but a few extra tools will give you a professional edge.
This eight piece set contains a jigger, strainer, spoon, muddler, two pourers and a 2-piece Boston shaker. Now your gift recipient will have no excuses for short measures or spillages - and will hopefully treat you to some perfectly mixed drinks. Buy now, £24.99, Lakeland
Named for a Cuban mining town, the Daiquiri was created when miners added Bacardi rum to local water to disinfect it. To make the drink more palatable, lime and sugar was added. From necessity, then, one of the most perfectly balanced cocktails was born.
Now, you can find your favourite take on the Cuban classic. Make your way through six outstanding rums in this gift box, to find your tipple. Will it be light or dark? And will it come from the Caribbean or Latin America? Also included is Trois Rivieres sugar cane syrup for an additional authentic touch. Just add limes. Buy now, £29.95, the Whisky Exchange
This sturdy glass-bodied shaker not only allows you to see the ingredients you’re mixing, but it also helps measure them out. Besides marking the volume it also displays six recipes, with quantities of ingredients divided out for each. Mixing up a Pina Colada has never been easier. Buy now, £9, Brand Alley
If you’re a cocktail obsessive, then shaking and muddling will only get you so far: there are times when you’ll need to blend.
The KitchenAid blender will not only pulverise fruits, it can also crush ice in a flash – perfect for frozen cocktails. And unlike other blenders, its shiny retro looks won’t look out of place on your cocktail bar. Buy now, £279, Selfridges
If you’re looking to get someone started on cocktails then an Old Fashioned makes a fantastic first choice. All you need is whiskey, Angostura Bitters and sugar with a twist of orange to garnish and some ice. This smart gift pack makes it even easier, combining bitters and sugar into a simple syrup. And with Woodford Reserve Bourbon being one of the best cocktail whiskeys around, you’ve got yourself a classic cocktail bargain. Buy now, £34.95, The Whisky Exchange
Popular gin brand Bombay Sapphire has a gorgeous offering. Their traditional dry London gin is a perennial joy, and this gift version is just as light and drinkable, but sings with added notes of rosehip, mint, and toasted hazelnut. Perfect for long drinks, pair with mint and lemon for an ideal G'n'T. Buy now, £23.95, the Whisky Exchange.
For cocktail enthusiasts with professional aspirations, shake your credit card in the direction of Sociovino, importers of fine booze for the bar trade. Now supplying direct to the consumer the kits may look basic – simply full sized bottles and a recipe card – but the quality is exceptional. The Negroni kit, for example, features weighty bottles of Gin (700ml), Red Vermouth (1litre) and Amaro Bitter (1litre) from Italian producer Berto, resulting in the best Negronis we’ve ever made. Buy now, £52, Sociovino
Devon Cove has assembled several vodka based cocktail kits on their website, with the Espresso Martini being our pick of the packs. You’ll get a 200ml bottle of Cove’s super smooth potato vodka, along with their own coffee liqueur and freshly ground coffee bags from Salcombe (plus a few whole beans for garnishing). These top notch, hand-crafted ingredients will reward you with some exceptional Espresso Martinis. Buy now, £29.90, Devon Cove
Drinks by Post cram a lot into their kits. Take, for example, their ‘Modern Christmas Collection’ – we counted eleven bottles of assorted boozes, mixers and syrups to make five different cocktails, including a wintery Hot Toddy and festive Sloe Boat. You’ll also get fresh fruit, including a ripe passionfruit for making our pick of the pack – a deliciously pink Passionfruit Martini.
Buy now, £40, The Buffalo